Saturday, November 30, 2013

bird feeder wasn't squirrel proof, so...

Squirrels are on earth to bring proud men down a peg. Maybe two.

Yesterday, just seconds after I wrote that my feeder appeared squirrel proof, a large black and furry one climbed into it with apparent ease. Initially flabbergasted, I muttered a few words of praise in its direction for a worthy effort. Then I got to thinking about what to do next.

["How long will this deter the critters? Wait and see"]

I set a metal lamp shade atop the plastic bottles, the same shade I attached to a feeder last year, but in a rigid fashion. The way it is balanced now atop the rounded bottle, it should move under a squirrel's weight and throw it off. But we'll see.

["I'll throw the plastic bottle at the first squirrel I see!"]

Wait do you think of this modification? Do we have a winner?

Photos by GH


Please click here to read bird feeder appears squirrel proof

Bird Watching: "flash of juncos"

Juncos often travel in small bands.

A gaggle, like geese? A bevy, like beauties?

No. They travel in flashes. When they fly off together you'll see a flash of white as they spread their tail feathers. Thus the name.

["A flash of juncos went west seconds ago.
This junco stayed for seconds"]

They also like to feed from the ground, so I spread a basic mix on a wooden bench under the feeder for them. They never fail to arrive early in the morning.

Link here to junco prose!

Photo by GH


Please click here to read Bird Watching: "keep the camera handy"

winter scenes from Canada, eh (4)

I wanted to blaze my own trail last Sunday morning, and I did, what with my little sturdy shovel and all, but I quickly fell behind my wife because of the heavy snowfall earlier in the day. I wouldn't normally shovel a trail all the way from the house to The Red Roaster under any conditions (weather-wise) but my wife wanted coffee 'out', and not my usual home blended dark roast.

"This morning I don't want just the usual," she said.

So, as I like to say under such circumstances, "Well, off we go then."

[We're almost there. I shouted, "You're buying,
right?" but she didn't seem to hear]

Did you make your own coffee last Sunday? Blaze your own trail?

Photo by GH


Please click here to view winter scenes from Canada, eh (3)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Grey Power: "putting money aside" (1)

In less than a year I turn 65. There won't be a big party so don't buy balloons. But the number is significant to me. It's a meaningful line I must cross in my life journey, like the Equator would be to a passenger who crosses it for the first time in an ocean liner. Already I've been thinking about the day it will happen.

Some thoughts were closely personal and came up during separate conversations about medical insurance, the Canada Pension Plan and my (age) 55-plus hockey team. I agreed to change insurance carriers, was prompted to apply for CPP early and wondered if there was a 65-plus team in town so I could be the youngest (and a star) on a team, and not the second oldest. (I know, Shakespeare is right: All is vanity).

Other thoughts were more social or political, and prompted by a recent report by Stats Canada about the greying population. Me. Maybe you. At least a growing number of Canadians.

["Some details reported Nov. 26, London Free Press"]

You may have heard the greying population referred to as the grey tsunami because it's a powerful force, one that may easily swamp some government services (e.g., medical, social) in the future. The report says a few words about the 'swamping' aspect of the greys and they touched a nerve in my (almost 65-year old) Boy Scout nature.

I read:

     By 2036, seniors will account for 23% to 25%
     of the Canadian population, and by 2061, the
     figure will be 24% to 28%, they say.

In my mind, we greys  won't exactly be taking over the streets but empty chairs will be scarcer at local coffees shops between 9 and 11 a.m. most weekdays. However, bigger concerns follow:

     What this means is that as the so-called baby
     boomers age there will be fewer people in line
     after them to pay for their care. 

     "There's a kind of an intergenerational difficulty
     in that," Beaujot said. "As we're preparing for a
     society that will have more health costs, we should
     have been putting money aside for that."

To me, I see red flags in the last statements. Big red flags, but not like the Canadian Maple Leaf. I don't think most Canadians and our current federal government are interested in saving up money for important future needs. We may instead be on the opposite course. 

["Photo at"]

Stay tuned. More to follow.
Photo by GH


Please click here to read new skills at age 64

Gord's aim is still pretty good

In an earlier post I mentioned I occasionally resort to throwing pot lids at squirrels attacking my bird feeder. Plastic bottles will do in a pinch, as well.

["Don't throw my good pot lids," said my wife. (Too late!)]

I winged a squirrel with that yellow lid, to the right of V8 bottle. I'll go get that one back.

Photo by GH


Please click here to read bird feeder appears squirrel proof

bird feeder appears squirrel proof

Every year, for the last several, I've put out bird feeders. And every year I've encountered smart-witted squirrels who find weaknesses in my feeder placement and design. They've eaten more seeds than the birds and I've - figuratively - pulled out what's left of my hair. But, maybe things will be different this year.

["Standing tall, between my window and a blue spruce"]

["From the squirrel's point of view, impassable so far"]

I've implemented Plan 36, i.e., 'the plastic-bottle barrier', after growing tired of throwing tennis balls and pot lids out the study window at the frustratingly malicious critters. (Unfortunately, they are also lovingly furry and cute and my wife had a few words for me after discovering a pot lid she needed - among other things - was outside in the snow, inches from the back gate. I actually winged a squirrel with a flat, yellow, Frisbee-like lid. She wasn't impressed.)

["This one has tried several times to get up the pole"]

["But now he's walking away... walking away."]

So far, over a period of 3 - 4 days, no squirrels have been seen inside my feeder.

A small step for man...

Photos by GH


Please click here to read bird feeder needs one modification

Thursday, November 28, 2013

winter scenes from Canada, eh (3)

My neighbour owns a birdhouse
with quite a lengthy mane,

and if you come back in December
it will be there again.

Photo by GH


Please click here to view winter scenes from Canada, eh (2)

Bird Watching: "keep the camera handy"

For the past few days the bird feeder has been very busy, especially in the morning. Pairs of blue jays and cardinals, juncos, chickadees and literally sparrows by the dozen.

["The jay comes and goes - I'm slow on the draw"]

If I want to catch the male cardinal and big blue jay in a good photo I'll have to keep the camera handy and always turned ON.

Lousy photo by GH


Do you keep your camera turned ON?

Please click here to view female cardinal at  bird feeder needs one modification

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Workshop: "cats fit right in"

The workshop is ruled by a few simple decrees:

     don't throw anything out

     modify existing creations

     then charge more

     have a bit of fun

At least, those are the rules that worked for me last week, and after adding a couple of cats to birdhouse fence rails the price went way up, from $40 to $400.

(One time, as a joke, and it worked. Well, I was laughing).

["Matt wanted cats, he got cats!"]

["He got cats and a bill for $400! He got the joke too"]

Today in the shop I'll cut out a dozen wee cats from scrap lumber and assemble a half dozen houses using beautiful barn board from Fenelon Falls. And I'll stick with the same four decrees.

["Fen. Falls barnboard is fun to use in the shop"]

["Another small pleasure... I keep the music playing.
Today, Joni Mitchell will surely hit the right chord"]

Photos by GH


Please click here to read oh, it's worth way more now

winter scenes from Canada, eh (2)

On Sunday, one drift of snow on a fence rail started to curl, as if to defy gravity.

This morning, the curl is surely nearing it's breaking point.

Curly snow on the fence rail in the background fell moments before I snapped this picture.

Will any last until tomorrow?

Photos by GH 


Please click here to view winter scenes (1)

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Workshop: cedar deck table and benches

While in Grand Rapids, MI recently, sets of sturdy outdoor patio or deck furniture caught my eye. And I do mean sturdy. Within seconds a thought formed: I'll build deck furniture like that, and I already have the lumber from one of my gold mines.

["Thick planks of mystery lumber. Pine or hemlock, maybe"]

["Nicely stained. Will last a lifetime. Low maintenance."]

["I already have 11 planks of cedar, 8 ft. long, in Annex"]

["My rough idea needs some refinement, then I get busy"]

I have western cedar aplenty in The Annex (a very crowded shed, steps from the workshop) and a rough idea of how to proceed. I can't get to the project this week, but soon. And next spring I'll be sitting pretty.

Photos by GH 


Please click here to view another wood working project shadow box: ready to go fishin'

bird feeder needs one modification

Great. A male and female cardinal have found my feeder. She guards the roof while he eats, it seems.

Rats. A grey and black squirrel have found it too, and found the skinny pole easy to climb. Already I've had to raise my study window, three times, to argue with the weasels. Grrr.

So, a modification is definitely required. Off to the shop I do go.

Photos by GH


Please click here to view bird feeder on the mend

bird feeder on the mend

One of my old bird feeders looked a bit tired at the beginning of November so I spruced it up with a new colour... Lite Kelly Green (my own secret recipe). I stuck its pole in the ground last night (my last job of a fairly busy day) but noticed this morning it was leaning to the left, or right, depending on where I stood.

["The pole leans toward the shop. Gotta fix it"]

["Seems better now"]

["Good view from my window, but I have screen issues"]

["Screen is out and glass is cleaned. I'm ready"]

Now that it's standing up straight, close to my study window, I just have to wait for local birds - and those miserable squirrels - to find it.

Photos GH

FYI while posting, a squirrel found the seeds I placed upon the ground under the feeder. Will he attempt to climb the metal pole? We shall see. Cardinals, jays, sparrows, junkos and chickadees have also found the feeder. Busy times at noon.


Are your feeders active?

Please click here to read Pink birdhouses? Pink?

"winter scenes from Canada, eh" (1)

small house for rent

Photo by GH


Please click here to view one quiet moment

one quiet moment

After all the shovelling was finished yesterday, and after a few hours of easy work in the shop, life quieted down.

I locked the shop door, climbed the few stairs from the backyard, and followed a carefully sculpted path across the back deck. Then I snapped one last picture before sitting down to a late supper.

Photo by GH 


Please click here to view another favourite photo

small pleasures: "good tunes from aging duo"

Paul Simon and I have a lot in common. We've been around the block a few times, we're not the tallest guys on the block (or any block), we like duets, and we have little round heads.

["Paul has a perfectly round dome, doesn't he?"]

Yesterday, in the privacy of my shop, we banged out quite a string of good tunes together. Sure, Art Garfunkel used to nail every tune, but I'll do in a pinch.

Photo by GH


Please click here for singing in modern times

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Shadow Box: "ready to go fishin'"

I have to go back in time - not too far - to explain the origin of the following idea: I should build shadow boxes in my workshop as a way to display items of interest to me, and perhaps to a fairly limited number of other folks. Like spigots, hand carved fish decoys, hammers. And century-old hinges from barn doors or gates.

["A new box, from old lumber, is freshly oiled"]

About two months ago, when I found myself with three different 100-year old hinges, I decided to show them off. The shadow box idea was born. Since that time a few people have joined me in thinking that some things should be displayed on a wall, not forgotten or buried under other stuff.

A recent visitor to my workshop really liked a display of fishing lures. "Can you make one like that for me?" he asked. "My son's hockey coach is a real fisherman."

["Linseed oil takes a few days to dry up"]

I can and I will. In fact, the box is well underway. Once it dries I'll fish around for a few lures. Should be finished by the end of the week.

Photos by GH


Please click here to view a finished shadow box carry a big mug

"Oh, it's worth way more now"

Matt got the joke. He saw my note ("Sold! $400") attached to the birdhouse I delivered to his work place and we shared a good laugh about the price. As well, he noticed an addition to the fence rail - a furry feline.

"Did you add that because of our talk last night?" he asked.

["Cats and more cats. Perfect for a birdhouse fence?"]

["Cat lovers may like the joke. But will the birds?"]

"Yes. I nailed it into place about an hour ago," I said. "I think it fits right in."

"My dad will love it," he said.

So, Matt's dad gets a new cat for Christmas, no extra charge.

Photos by GH


Please click here to read Yup. It says $400

Next stop - Montreal (2)

One custom order I'm working on is coming together well. Adding a primer coat is an easy task, providing time to think about how to mix a rug brick colour with the paint I have on hand. Red plus a bit of yellow plus black should do the trick.

["The face looks like the photo - a good thing"]

["Another good thing. The roof's slope will shed rain"]

["All the bits are drying. What's next?"]

While the primer is drying I'll stir things up in the workshop.

Should be in Montreal by the end of the week.

Photos by GH


Please click here to read Next stop - Montreal (1)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Yup. It says $400"

$400 for a birdhouse. It sounds like a lot of money. But I have my reasons.

First, it's the last of its kind, at least until next Tuesday. Secondly, it's for a friend who "really, really" wanted it and took me outside my comfort zone by saying he was going to pay more than I wanted. "You'll just have to take what I give you, and that's that," he said. Thirdly, I know the fellow can take a joke.

Matt has got to learn he shouldn't mess with somebody who owns several hammers.

Photos by GH


Please click here to read Cold Pancakes. I felt like a maroon

Next stop - Montreal

I enjoy filling custom orders for a birdhouse. I'm usually told who it is for and where it will be used, and I'm reminded I should hang a map of the world in my workshop, because many orders go far afield.

["Doesn't look like much yet, I know"]

["Birdhouse order: Like a semi-detached from Montreal"]

["Distinctive front looks AOK during assembly time"]

["A door and brass hinges are around here, somewhere..."]

Today I construct the side porch, add primer and look for a box suitable for shipping. Then comes the hard part. Mixing paint to look like the house in the photo.

Rug brick? Comes in a can? Any ideas?

Photos by GH


Please click here to read birdhouses taste good? why?

The Workshop: I'm seeing red

If I have room I like to add a free birdhouse to larger models. And, more often than not, I paint the roof red.

Many traditional Purple Martin houses have a red roof. Why shouldn't mine?

Photos by GH 


Please click here to view cabin in the moonlight

Zoom w a View: Favourite Photo

From inside the house my wife sent a signal to the workshop: 'Supper is ready.' I came into the house through the back door shortly thereafter and hung up my well-worn hat and flannel shirt.

The dusty ensemble struck me as funny.

(And if I can figure out how, I'll take a selfie with my wife's gloves hovering over my head).

Photo by GH


Please click here for another fav photo the maple leafs

The best wood in Canada (2)

Recently, while I assembled and stacked birdhouses - made from the best wood in Canada - an idea dawned, in short phrases.

New kinda perch. Small porch. The porch perch.

I think some birds will love it, especially if I add a rocker.

Photo by GH


Please click here to view The best wood in Canada (1)